After testing out backpacks I found the Osprey Ariel to fit really well, but am concerned about the thin hipbelt padding. My ultimate question: If a bag fits you really well, does thin padding make
a big difference? If so, is there a way to improve it?
The padding on this particular pack is meant to be thermo-molded to your hips (it’s a process that gets done in the store by a clerk). While the padding may be thin, it’s very effective, and the thinness—along with the customized molding—allows the hipbelt to give your body a really precise wrap.
In our testing, it works very well, even for those with bony hip protrusions. It may appear to be thinner than many other hipbelts, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Bulkier, stiffer hipbelts often don’t provide a perfect wrap around your hips, which can result in soreness and a less than perfect load transfer to your hips.
So, rather than the padding’s thickness, think more about the fit around your hips and pay attention to how well it accepts the weight of your load (this is what “load transfer” refers to). Hope this helps!